Bangalore: Technology investor IDG Ventures India and Accel Partners India have together injected $5 million in two-year old medical devices maker Forus Health.
The Bangalore-based start-up founded by K. Chandrasekhar and Shyam V. Rao who were colleagues at multinational electronics company Philips have developed '3nethra', a low-cost portable pre-screening ophthalmology device.
The device which costs one sixth the price of the devices available in the market can identify multiple diseases such as cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retina, refraction and cornea problems.
"You can carry it in a suitcase. It is rugged and has been carried on bus tops and even on horses in places like Mizoram," said K Chandrasekhar, CEO of Forus. The device can be used by a minimally trained technician.
Forus will use the funding to scale up technology, hire talent, marketing and tap emerging markets such as India, Africa and Latin America and developed markets.
Chandrasekhar said India has got the largest number of blind people in the world and the 3nethra device is addressing that problem.
He said of the 39 million blind people worldwide, 12 million are in India and 80% of it is avoidable blindness, if they would have got their eyes screened on time. "This means the ophthalmologist to patient ratio is approximately 1:60,000 in the country," he said.
This is the second healthcare investment for IDG which earlier invested in Perfint Healthcare a medical devices company that is treading new ground in detection and treatment of cancer.
Over the last 12 months there have been very interesting medical devices companies emerging, run by entrepreneurs who have identified the gaps after working at healthcare majors such as Philips and GE, said Ranjith Menon, vice president at IDG Ventures India.
The big value proposition that bigger firms are missing is that their products are largely made for the developed markets and they try to use it for the emerging markets, said Soumitra Sharma, senior analyst at IDG.
Forus has already done 30 installations across the country which includes many leading ophthalmology institutions. It is also building cloud-based data centres which will connect doctors with patients even from the remotest locations in India.
Besides pre-screening of eye diseases, Forus is aiming to build technology that can scan the retina to detect early symptoms of diabetes, cardiovascular, nephrology and neurological problems, said Shyam V.Rao, president and chief technology officer at Forus.